OTTAWA, Nov. 15, 2018 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the marine environment, including marine mammals, and ensuring navigational safety for mariners, fishers, recreational boaters and all users of Canada's oceans and waterways.
Today, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, lifted the mandatory speed restriction for vessels in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to ensure ships can operate safely in winter months. We thank the many vessel operators and captains who complied with the mandatory speed restriction this season. Transport Canada is not aware of any North Atlantic right whale deaths from vessel strikes this year and will ask vessels to voluntarily slow down should a whale be spotted in or near the shipping lanes.
On April 28, 2018, Transport Canada implemented a speed restriction for vessels 20 metres or more to a maximum of 10 knots in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence. Ships were allowed to travel at normal speeds in parts of two shipping lanes north and south of Anticosti Island if no whales were spotted in the area.
This year, the Government of Canada also tested new drone technology for marine mammal surveillance and protection. In August 2018, experts from Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Iqaluit-based Arctic UAV and the University of Alaska Fairbanks conducted a three-week drone mission out of Gaspé, Quebec. The trial results will help the Government of Canada find new ways to locate and track North Atlantic right whales and to better protect them from ships and fishing gear. The Government of Canada continues to work with the industry to strengthen surveillance technology for seasons to come.
A world-leading marine system requires strong environmental protection for Canada's coastal habitats, ecosystems and marine species, including whales. The Government of Canada continues to work with partners, scientific experts, industry, environmental groups, and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to determine a comprehensive approach to ensure these marine mammals are protected.
Building on the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is protecting and supporting the recovery of endangered, iconic whale populations across Canada through a five-year $167.4 million Whales Initiative. This initiative will protect and support the recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whale, the North Atlantic right whale, and the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga through comprehensive actions tailored to address the unique combinations of threats that each of these populations face.
On October 31, 2018, the Government of Canada announced an additional $61.5 million to implement new measures focused on broadening and strengthening protection for the Southern Resident Killer Whales. Protecting species at risk is a responsibility shared by all Canadians and the federal government is committed to continued partnership with Indigenous people, provincial and territorial governments, and relevant industry stakeholders.
"Our government's $1.5 billion investment in the Oceans Protection Plan and the $167.4 million Whales Initiative include measures that will address threats to marine mammals in Canadian waters. We are pleased that this year's measures were so successful and work has already begun to strengthen these measures for 2019 to protect the marine environment and minimize the economic impact to vessel operators."
The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport
- Transport Canada issued three penalties for not complying with the mandatory speed restriction between April 28 and November 15, 2018.
- Several cases are under review by Transport Canada marine safety and security inspectors. Vessel owners have 30 days to pay the penalty or to ask the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada to review the facts of the violation or the amount of the penalty.
- The Government of Canada is not aware of any North Atlantic right whale deaths in Canadian waters in 2018.
- In 2017, 12 North Atlantic right whales died in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The global population is approximately 450.
- Protecting North Atlantic right whales
- Administrative Enforcement Action Summaries
- Government of Canada taking further action to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales
- Protecting our Coasts – Oceans Protection Plan
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SOURCE Transport Canada
For further information: Delphine Denis, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, Ottawa, 613-991-0700, [email protected]; Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, 613-993-0055, [email protected]